Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles
Gutierrez hasn’t explained damage to a state vehicle assigned to him.
and REGINALD FIELDS
PLAIN DEALER REPORTERS
COLUMBUS — One of Attorney General Marc Dann’s top managers, who is accused of sexual harassment, has a history of problems with cars and alcohol, including a drunken-driving arrest months before he was hired and a smashed state car after.
Dann knew about the arrest because, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol records, he was the one who picked up Anthony Gutierrez at 2:30 in the morning at the Canfield post after Gutierrez blew a .149 on a blood-alcohol test — nearly twice the legal limit.
The trooper who pulled him over Sept. 22, 2006, for going 20 mph over the speed limit said Gutierrez was glassy-eyed, slurring his words and stumbled when asked to walk a straight line.
Still, five months later, in February 2007, Dann put Gutierrez, a close friend and neighbor from Liberty, in charge of general services, including the office’s fleet of vehicles.
Gutierrez, 50, who also owed thousands in back state and federal taxes before he got the job, was among Dann’s first hires after taking office in January 2007. He moved in with Dann at an apartment Dann rented in Columbus.
Dann did not return calls Thursday. His spokesman, Ted Hart, acknowledged that Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s arrest but said the charge to which Gutierrez eventually pleaded no contest — reckless operation — didn’t disqualify him from being hired.
“They weren’t going to treat Mr. Gutierrez any different than anyone else in terms of not hiring him,” Hart said.
As part of his sentence for reckless operation, Gutierrez’s license was suspended until March 20, 2007. He was assigned a state vehicle in April of that year.
Gutierrez did not disclose the drunken-driving arrest on portions of the application that asked about recent traffic citations or things that could be an embarrassment to the state.
The September 2006 arrest wasn’t Gutierrez’s first drunken-driving case. He was convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired after pleading no contest to the charge in Girard Municipal Court in 1984, according to his driving record at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Neither Gutierrez nor his attorney returned telephone calls seeking comment.
After only about a year on the job, Gutierrez has been accused of sexual harassment and, separately, has not yet explained extensive damage to a state vehicle he had assigned to himself.
He was suspended with pay from his $87,500-a-year state job earlier this month, during an internal investigation into the harassment claims.
Two women say Gutierrez pressured them for sex while working for him in Dann’s office.
One of the women says in her complaint that Gutierrez fell asleep drunk at the wheel of a state-issued Chevrolet Suburban and struck a guardrail. She told an investigator Gutierrez showed up at work the next morning, reeking of booze and with vomit caked on his nose.
As director of general services, Gutierrez oversaw the office’s fleet of state vehicles and assigned himself whichever ride he wanted to drive.
A black Chevrolet Suburban arrived at the office’s repair shop at the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Oct. 10, 2007, with extensive damage to both sides.
Gutierrez traded the damaged car in for a new one the same day, Hart said.
Hart added the attorney general’s office cannot find evidence that Gutierrez ever reported the damage to the vehicle or explained what happened, as required. He said a search continues for the paperwork.